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Kingsport bus service gets $1.2 million in federal grant

Staff report • Jun 18, 2020 at 3:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on Wednesday (June 17) announced a $1.2 million grant to the Kingsport Area Transit Service (KATS). The award is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed by President Donald Trump on March 27.

“COVID-19 is costing the transit industry across the county billions in lost revenue and increased costs to protect personnel and customers,” said Chris Campbell, public transportation manager for KATS. KATS will use the grant funds for operating, preventive maintenance and administrative expenses, which are necessary to support transit services during the COVID-19 public health emergency, a federal news release said.

“This federal funding is critical to keeping public transit operational and a guarantee that essential personnel, from healthcare to grocery workers, can get to their jobs now and when this crisis is over. Thanks to the CARES ACT funding, we are in a better position to keep people working and continue to move essential workers as safely as possible during this unprecedented crisis.

“The federal CARES Act funding does not require a state or local match, which helps the city offset this investment. The funding will be utilized for employee and customer wellness by underwriting increased expenses from new safety measures, including personal protective equipment, disinfectant and cleaning increases, and other added safety precautions.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced the grant Wednesday. “This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who continue to depend on them,” Chao said in a news release.

“We know many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges, and these funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “These federal funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies of all sizes providing essential travel and supporting transit workers across the country who are unable to work because of the public health emergency.”

In addition to the CARES Act funding, FTA in April issued a safety advisory that prompts transit agencies to develop and implement policies and procedures regarding face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, physical separation and hand hygiene consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance. CARES Act funding can be used to cover 100% of these costs.

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